WASHINGTON — An aide says Vice President Mike Pence won’t hesitate to criticize North Korea when he attends next month’s Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Pence’s deputy chief of staff, Jarrod Agen, said Tuesday: “No matter the circumstances or occasion, the Vice President will not hesitate to speak out against North Korea when they are being dishonest or deceptive in their practices and provocations against freedom.”

The statement came in response to one by the ambassador for North Korea’s mission to the United Nations. Pak Song Il told the Washington Post on Monday that Pence’s visit “only shows how weak their motives are and how shameful their ways of thinking are.”

Aides to Pence have cast his visit as an attempt to ensure the North doesn’t “hijack the messaging” at the games.